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Amid COVID threat, militancy returns to Kashmir

The data on local recruitment also shows that the suppression of militancy after revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was a temporary blip.

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Published: May 6, 2020 12:48:57 am
jammu kashmir encounter, lashkar e toiba, handwara encounter, the resistance front, jk police, militant attacks, kashmir militancy, Indian express Security personnel stand near a Army camp in Handwara (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

Notwithstanding the threat posed by the spread of COVID-19, the onset of summer in Kashmir Valley has seen a return to violence, with 28 militants being killed in April alone and four in the first three days of May.

The data on local recruitment also shows that the suppression of militancy after revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was a temporary blip.

Security forces have killed a total of 64 militants till Sunday, compared to 152 militants killed in 2019 and 215 killed in 2018. The operations against militants had taken a backseat after August 5 last year, when the government revoked the special status and imposed a communication ban in Kashmir — 25 militants were killed from August till December last year.

The official government data also shows that the local recruitment of militants has not slowed down this year.

Till Sunday, 25 locals have picked up guns in Kashmir Valley, as against 119 locals who took to militancy in 2019 and 219 locals who became militants in 2018.

“The present situation in Kashmir is stable but fragile. Maintaining peace has been the prime goal of all the security forces,” GoC of Chinar Corps Lt General B S Raju told The Indian Express last week.

Meanwhile, the situation on the Line of Control (LoC) continues to remain tense, with 1,547 ceasefire violations between India and Pakistan being recorded till Sunday. In comparison, there were 3,168 ceasefire violations in 2019 and 1,629 violations recorded in 2019.

The situation on the LoC, which has worsened since last August, is not expected to change anytime soon, as per Lt General Raju, who said “Pakistan’s persistence in infiltrating terrorists, proliferating false propaganda are intended to disturb peace and its actions are unlikely to change anytime soon”.

In the last 24 hours, there have been ceasefire violations on the LoC at Balakote and Manakote in Poonch, Keri and Tarkundi in Rajouri, Pallanwala in Akhnoor and Uri in Baramulla. These violations have seen use of heavy weapons by both sides, even though no casualties have been reported so far.

The security forces have also suffered major casualties in a few high-profile incidents with five personnel losing their lives on Saturday, including the Commanding Officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles, Colonel Ashutosh Sharma. In another incident a few days earlier, five Special Forces operatives of the Army were killed in an operation on the LoC in Keren sector.

Security officials said “Pakistan is sending better- trained militants but it is not something we can’t handle after our experience of the past three decades”.

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